We are excited for today's In The Spotlight as we're being joined by award-winning author, Vincent Zandri. If you are writing in the mystery/action/adventure genres, or just really enjoy reading the works of those who do, this is the chat for you.
Vincent truly understands the keys to becoming a successful author in the very competitive publishing arena, and he's got amazing material out there to prove it. Plus, he's a genuinely nice guy and cares about his readers.
So, grab yourself a cup of your favorite beverage, get comfy and join us in our chat. I'm sure you'll enjoy meeting him as much as I have.
CHYNNA: Welcome to the blog, Vincent! Thank you so much for squeezing me in around your very busy writing schedule. Let’s start with you telling us a bit about your background.
VINCENT: I was born in Troy, New York in 1964 on a very hot 4th of July weekend, so they tell me. Someone tossed a live firecracker in my mother’s room while she was nursing me and that probably explains a lot about the stuff I write. I was groomed for the construction business and started working digging ditches at 14. By the time I was out of college I’d had enough of that and decided to become a writer.
CHYNNA: Well, that’s an interesting start in the world. I’m guessing that writing is much more fun and exciting for you than the ditches you were digging. ;) But I can see how all of your experiences in your youth inspired a few stories. Now, is writing a creative expression you’ve always practiced, or is it more something that started as a hobby that you focused more on over time?
VINCENT: I played drums in some punk bands growing up, and still play. But I was never as passionate about it, in terms of creative expression, as I am with writing. I feel like I was born to be a writer. That there was nothing else for me writing stories, one after the other.
CHYNNA: I think it’s great that you still play drums. But I totally hear you about the creative freedom that comes from writing. It’s such a rewarding way to get all of those ideas in your head out there, and telling a story others can enjoy too. The story that ‘introduced’ me to your work and talent was a short story you’d written about a man who was blind, and coping in the seeing world around him. I was so impressed how you got the reader to ‘see’ the world through this man’s eyes. Do you do research before tackling stories like these, or do you just ‘wing it’?
VINCENT: I try to research enough to get the details right, but I don’t over research so much that my creativity is stifled. In that story, I closed my eyes and thought about what it would be like to no longer have the use of your eyes. You would have to find a way to make up for the handicap, like counting the steps it takes to get from the bedroom to the bathroom for instance.
CHYNNA: Yes, exactly! Most times, that kind of research is more powerful in the end because you’re actually feeling what the character is. Those of us who know your work look forward to all of your murder/mystery/action/adventure books and stories. Would you consider writing other stories, like the one discussed above, or do you gravitate more to the genres where there is more action?
VINCENT: Lately, I’ve been in love with the action. But I have also been experimenting with some Young Adult and even Erotic Noir (talk about polar opposites). I’ve just finished two psychological suspense stand-alones, and have also been sketching some flash fiction. But my bread and butter is the action & adventure and the hard-boiled stuff.
CHYNNA: Wow! Those really are two polar opposite genres. lol I think it’s great to dabble in different areas to get a true sense of where you’re most passionate. That’s a great approach. What is your writing routine like, or do you have one?
VINCENT: Wake up fairly early, like I would for a normal job. Make the coffee, bring it with me into the writing studio which is also my bedroom. Work for a couple hours either writing new, or editing newly written material. Then break for a jog and some weight lifting. Back at it until lunch. Usually I eat lunch while I work. Maybe a quick nap around 1:15PM, then I’m fresh for the afternoon session. I take a walk around 3:15, rain, shine, or snow, and work again until 4:30 or 5:00PM. By then I can’t wait to get out of the house for a while, so I head over to my favorite bar, have a couple of beers and pick up some food. I have the same routine in Florence, Italy as I do in New York. It’s just that the food and wine is better in the former. I work six days a week, sometimes seven.
CHYNNA: It’s nice to hear someone else takes cat naps mid-afternoon to re-fuel. And if I lived in Italy, or New York for that matter, I’d have more distractions I’m sure. J As you are aware, promotion is a huge part of becoming successful in this business. There is so much media out there to help us authors reach out to our readers. Which have you found most useful and do you have advice for our writers-in-progress on this subject? For example, having a platform even before sending in those writing samples seems to help seal the deal, right?
VINCENT: Building a platform is key. Blogging, creating a YouTube channel, podcasting, writing articles and short stories…all these things help get your name out there. Back in the day, you could post about your book on Social Media and get some sales, but that doesn’t seem to be much the case anymore. Things are changing rapidly, and the new crop of young writers are just as likely to be computer programmers and SEO experts as they are gifted with the ability to tell a story. In order to keep up with promotions I’ve recently hired someone to take care of it for me so I can concentrate on the work. The best advice I can give however, is write one book after the other. That’s your best pathway to success.
CHYNNA: That’s awesome advice. And this sometimes Internet-challenged girl will take notes here on that one. What advice can you give us about how to get that lucky break, aside from platform or promotion? What other skills or knowledge should a writer have?
VINCENT: See the last sentence in the answer to the previous question.
CHYNNA: lol Thank goodness. I think I’m on the right track, then. I hope our readers take double note of that too. Do you have any upcoming work we should be watching out for?
VINCENT: I’ve just signed a multi-book deal with Down & Out Books, the crime imprint I won the Thriller and Shamus Awards with for Best Paperback Original (MoonlightWeeps). Polis Books is publishing The Caretaker’s Wife in March of 2019 in hardcover. In the meantime, I have a new Jack Marconi PI coming out soon, Sins of the Sons. I’m also working on a brand new Dick Moonlight PI. The latest in the Steve Jobz PI series is out. It’s called The Flower Man. Plus a new episode in my Handyman series will be published in a couple of weeks. Also a new short novel in my Sam Savage Sky Marshal series, Tunnel Rats. I pretty much have a book or even a couple novellas coming out every month for the next year or so. Best thing to do is head to my website, to get the real scoop.
CHYNNA: That’s very impressive, and proof that when you have an awesome idea for a series it’s golden. With all of the amazing things you have accomplished, is there anything you can look back on and change or do differently, if you could?
VINCENT: I would have gotten into the indie side of things earlier on. The writers like Blake Crouch, Joe Konrath, Diane Capri, Lee Goldberg, Russell Blake, JR Rain, Scott Nicholson, and others, started in right away and built themselves a huge following. They are not only super talented, but pioneers in the industry.
CHYNNA: Oh, absolutely. I think it’s really important to read in the genre(s) we want to be successful in because there’s a lot to be learned from someone who’s already gotten there. I know you need to get back to your deadlines so I’ll fire one last question at you that I always like to ask. Do you have any pearls of wisdom you live by and can share with our readers?
VINCENT: Never take the literary successes or failures too seriously. If you work hard enough, you’re going to experience plenty of both. You’re never really that successful or really that much of a failure. If you can make yourself a nice little living, help others out when they need it, and enjoy every day to its fullest. That, in itself, is a success.
CHYNNA: Those are some powerful pearls to live by. Thank you again, Vincent, for joining us here today. I wish you continued success and hope that you can come back again when things settle down for you a bit.Please check out Vincent’s website and follow the links to his books to learn more about him and the fantastic work he’s sharing. It’s well worth it.